Chileans, just like Italians, have an “undying love” for poker and “excel” for finding various “Places and Opportunities” to “play the game”. Unlike Italy, where poker is legal but with limited options, Chilean players have access to unlimited poker resources, although it is completely “illegal”. The only advantage over Italians is that the Chilean government does not take legal action against foreign and illegal poker game providers. Therefore, Chileans can immerse their time in the poker rooms, participate in various poker tournaments around the country and enjoy their winnings with minimal interruptions!
Interesting game story
The passion that Chileans express for poker stems from the rich past and history of gambling in the country. The history of Chilean gambling begins with the establishment of the country’s first casino, the “Casino Vina del Mar”, in 1852. However, the establishment became operational in 1930 on New Year’s Eve, making the year much more symbolic! However, General Pinochet instituted gambling bans, and the only sport with leeway was horse racing between 1960 and 1990.
However, with over 18 million people, the demise of the military dictatorship saw the country pick up the pieces and once again rise in the world and the gaming industry. In 2004, the country drafted the “Law on the 2004 game ”. In 2013, Casino Termas de Chillán SA submitted a request to the Resolution Board of the Superintendent of Casinos to accept and authorize casinos for operations in the country.
Following the request, 25 casinos were granted operating licenses after completing the operating licensing process in 2014. But, according to the Superintendent of Casinos de Juego (SCJ), the country has only 24 legalized casinos (law n ° 19.995).
Other requests for additional licenses have reached the authorities’ tables, and the number of casinos will double if successful. However, the government and the governing bodies of gambling are taking the lead this time to avoid another fiasco like the one years ago. One company, Thunderbird, had acquired six operational casino licenses. When the government asked the casino to come back and drop five, the company sued the government, but Thunderbird lost the legal battle!
Online poker presence
Three years ago, Chilean government official Joaquin Morales said he was studying the regulation of online poker. He hoped to be inspired by what countries like Italy have put to govern the game of skill. Since then, the government has implemented the “Polla Chilena”, giving the government a legal monopoly on sports betting and lotteries both online at casinoonlineChile and offline. However, the Polla Chilena cannot satisfy the growing popularity of poker in the country. Citizens have adapted to play online illegally, which remains a “technicality” in most cases, as no prosecution or arrest takes place.
Morales indicates that the legality of online poker in the country lies in a “gray area”. He says the game is illegal if it comes from foreign suppliers but legal if it is issued by Polla Chilena. However, the source of online poker is irrelevant in the country, as the law qualifying online poker as illegal is not enforced! The factor is visible from the influx of game providers from all over the world.
Popularity of poker in the country
Poker is one of the most competitive sports in the country. Therefore, the major sites and gambling establishments thrive by hosting poker tournaments. One of them is the Sun Monticello poker tournament in April 2020. The tournament drew a buy-in of 700,000 CHP, or around $ 900. Additionally, Enjoy Vina del Mar has had the opportunity to host the Latin American Poker Tour on several occasions over the years.
Some of the most popular poker players of all time come from Chile. Notable names include Nicolas Fierro, who tops the Hendon Money List with a total profit of $ 1.788 million. He won the No-Limit Hold’em title in Uruguay in 2015, at Punta del Este. The title remains the “biggest live competition” he has ever conceded so far! His attempt to WSOP event in 2011 saw him take 34th place out of the 6865 possible participants! In total, this poker genius has won over $ 12.4 million during his career!
Nick Yunis is another Chilean citizen enjoying the fruits of poker in Chile! Its revenues are a bit lower than Fierro’s at $ 1.520 million. But, he won the World Poker Tour title in 2015 and pocketed more wins in WPT Five Diamonds World Poker Classic. Don’t forget that he also cashed the 2014 WSOP poker event!
Poker’s popularity soared even higher after Arturo Vidal, a popular Chilean football / soccer player, pocketed the TPE Barcelona in 2019. The midfielder took the fifth position and won the high roller victory amounting to $ 134,460!
The future of poker in Chile
Poker in Chile is doomed to grow beyond individual expectations. However, due to the lack of proper regulation, the government risks exploiting citizens, especially when it comes to online poker. We hope to see a change in the regulations in the future, which will put all players on an equal footing!